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Pocket Preps: Wallets | RECOIL OFFGRID


Some of you might have read the headline and said, “Wallets? Wallets aren’t survival tools!” But if you emptied your pockets right now, there’s a good chance you’d pull out a wallet among the contents. Why? Because it’s an essential piece of your everyday-carry loadout. And in a disaster — man-made or natural — it can make a big difference.

Gonna hole up indoors during an impending blizzard? You’ll first have to pay for the extra food, water, and backup heat sources that’ll help you get through it. Are you overseas for the holidays when a local government coup erupts? Better have your charge card handy to buy that first plane ticket out of Dodge. Trying to return home after a police blockade has locked down your community? You’ll need your driver’s license to show proof of residence.

If you stop to think about it, the cash, credit cards, and identification in your wallet can probably get you out of more jams than you might realize.

That’s why in this edition of Pocket Preps we take a look beyond your granddaddy’s bifold wallet. We found some modern updates of classic themes, while others are revolutionizing the genre from the ground up. Read on to see if there’s one that can improve your EDC setup.

Blackthorn Leather Rover II with Fisher Space Pen Sidecar Pocket

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Materials
Leather, stainless steel

Dimensions (Approx.)
4 by 3.75 by 0.25 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
2.2 ounces

MSRP
$69

URL
blackthornleather.com

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Notes
Blackthorn Leather is a small California-based company that makes soft goods with big (but not showy) style and wicked craftsmanship. This model is an upgrade to its original slim wallet, with a second pocket sewn to the front, a steel money clip integrated to the back, and a sidecar added to house a Fisher Space Pen (sold separately). It can fit eight cards snugly, though your mileage will vary. Plus, you can choose from various leather and stitching colors, as well as two types of money clips. The result is a fresh take on the genre, but with old-school aesthetics and increased functionality. Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Vintage appeal with modern functionality
  • Our review sample’s cash clip doubles as a bottle-opener.
  • Personalize your wallet for free by getting three letters stamped to the front.
  • Leather will conform to contents.

Cons:

  • Leather, in general, won’t hold up in wet or harsh conditions over a long period of time.

Trayvax Element

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Materials
Leather, stainless steel

Dimensions (Approx.)
4.5 by 2.8 by 0.5 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
5 ounces

MSRP
$65

URL
trayvax.com

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Notes
Trayvax was among the first to deconstruct the conventional wallet by pairing an aluminum faceplate to a steel backing using Mil-spec paracord. Now it has all sorts of unique models, including the Element. It stores your ID and credit cards by pressing them against a Melonite-coated stainless steel frame using a tough but smooth leather wrap, secured in place with a snap-button closure. The thick frame — which provides RFID protection — also has an integrated cash clip, bottle-opener, and lanyard hole. The Element can hold three to 10 cards and one to five bills. Made in the USA.

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Pros:

  • Exceptional materials and inventive design work
  • Built-in money clip and bottle-opener
  • Leather will stretch and conform as you break it in.
  • Solid steel frame makes for a decent impromptu self-defense tool.

Cons:

  • Snap-button closure was crazy tight out of the box, then too loose during our evaluation phase.
  • The rivet on the back side of the snap-button scratches our cards.

Zootility x Rustico PocketMonkey Wallet

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Materials
Leather, merino wool (wallet); stainless steel (tools)

Dimensions (Approx.)
4.25 by 2.625 by 0.125 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
0.7 ounce

MSRP
$25, $49 with tools

URL
zootility.com

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Notes
This collaboration between Zootility and Rustico consists of a special version of the latter company’s Wool Single Track Wallet that’s meant to house the former firm’s PocketMonkey multitool and Headgehog Comb. (Unfortunately, our review sample didn’t come with the Headgehog Comb, so we can’t comment on it here.) This trio puts a mini toolbox in your pocket. The PocketMonkey is a one-piece multitool with 12 functions that range from the useful (i.e. wrenches, screwdrivers) to the surprising (i.e. headphone wrap, orange peeler). The wallet by itself is $25, but you can get all three items for $49.

Pros:

  • Slim, lightweight, and easy to use
  • The merino wool interior keeps your cards scratch-free.
  • If you opt for the fully loaded $49 option, you’ll find yourself looking for small tasks for these fun tools.

Cons:

  • It can’t hold more than a few cards and bills.
  • We’re not so sure how it’ll do after continued hard use or in extreme conditions.

Mean Gene Leather Hot Tamale ID Wallet

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Materials
Leather

Dimensions (Approx.)
5 by 3.5 by 0.375 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
3.8 ounces

MSRP
$50

URL
meangeneleather.com

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Notes
When filled with coins, this little hombre can weigh almost a pound. It also has a retractable lanyard with a leather handle, which can be worn around your neck or wrist. Why would a coin purse need a lanyard? Well, if you’re a creative martial artist like this author, you’ll intuit that this wallet can easily become an improvised chain whip. Or at the very least give you quick access to your quarters. Overall, it’s a coin purse on steroids that’s beautifully made and ideal for carrying a limited amount of money and cards. Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Outside-the-box design
  • Minimalism meets everyday practicality and cowboy style.
  • More than 10 leather colors to choose from
  • Durable materials and top-notch craftsmanship

Cons:

  • The Hot Tamale has limited cargo capacity.
  • As resilient as leather can be, it’s not known for enduring brutal weather long term.

Nite Ize Financial Tool Multi Tool Wallet

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Materials
Stainless Steel

Dimensions (Approx.)
3.6 by 2.3 by 0.14 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
1.16 ounces

MSRP
$10

URL
niteize.com

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Notes
We bestowed this Nite Ize wallet with our Best Value Award, because it gives you more bang for your buck (pun intended). For just $10, you get seven tools integrated into two stainless steel frames, which press your cards and greenbacks together with a rubber-like strap. Its many functions include a bottle opener, wrenches, flathead screwdriver, and rulers. Also available in black, the Financial Tool Multi Tool Wallet is a low-profile model that not only holds a good amount of cards and cash, but also serves as a mini toolbox for light-duty tasks.

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Pros:

  • Packed with useful light-duty tools, such as a Philips screwdriver that doubles as a box opener
  • It’s manufactured in China, but you wouldn’t know it by its quality construction.
  • Price tag is easy on the bank account.

Cons:

  • The strap feels like it will snap and rolls over on itself too often.
  • The plates are thin and have right corners that dig into our fingers when we hold it in a tight grip.

Celtic Shield Minimalistic Wallet

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Materials
Aluminum

Dimensions (Approx.)
3.5 by 2.125 by 0.375 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
2.9 ounces

MSRP
$98

URL
shop.celticshield.com

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Notes
No, this isn’t a licensed RECOIL product placement, but rather an example of how Celtic Shield can (for an additional charge) custom engrave a logo of your choosing on either side of its low-profile wallet. It’s essentially two aluminum plates held tightly together by two retention bands. To access a credit card, just pry the plates apart like a clamshell then let go — they’ll snap shut. It’s available in five configurations, including slick/slick (meaning it’s plain on both sides) or coin/clip (meaning there’s a money clip on one side and a holder for a 1.5-inch challenge coin on the other). Made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Clean, modern lines combined with a simple-to-use design
  • The plates are durable while also providing RFID protection.
  • If you prefer to run cashless, you can use the clip to attach the wallet to your pocket, belt, go-bag, or inside your vehicle.
  • A solid last-ditch improvised weapon

Cons:

  • Due to its sandwich design, this wallet doesn’t offer any sort of compartmentalizing.

MIKOL Carrara White Minimalist Wallet

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Materials
Marble

Dimensions (Approx.)
3.54 by 2.24 by 0.04 inches

Weight (Unloaded)
1.2 ounces

MSRP
Starting at $99

URL
mikolmarmi.com

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Notes
MIKOL says it has created the world’s first marble wallet. Why marble? Like the watches, phone cases, and other accessories this San Francisco company makes, the wallet is designed for those who want both luxurious form and hard-use function. The MIKOL plates sandwich your money and credit cards holding them together with a retention band. Or you can slip your bills through just the band for quicker access. It comes in four colors, with the options of adding RFID protection ($16 extra), an engraving (another $25), or both (for $41).

Pros:

  • Though assembled in China, it survived our 6-foot drop tests unscathed.
  • Brings a unique aesthetic to the genre
  • Will endure tough conditions
  • Can hold more than a dozen cards, yet is slim and compact

Cons:

  • For penny-pinching preppers, this might seem a little pricey and extravagant.
  • Its simplistic design provides no organization of its contents like a traditional wallet.



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